While it was just a touch windier than we’d like it, the “gusts” barely made it to double digits out of the north. Also, it had been hot all day but we had some cloud cover that cooled it down to a perfect 80 degrees at ride time. We had a great group and rolled out with little fanfare after a request from the A Group was conveyed that, should any of us B Group latch on as they passed us in the home stretch, if we would stay to the back and let them cycle through their pace-line so there aren’t any issues, they’d appreciate it. I laughed when the request was first made last week. “Hey, do us a favor and let us do all the work, would ya?” Uh, I didn’t notice any of our group shedding tears as the message was relayed.
The seven-mile warm-up had even been fast – almost 20-mph. That normally bodes well for the actual ride.
We rolled shortly after the A guys with a pretty fair group. Two strong tandems and probably 20-25 solo bikes. The first mile was subdued but when the whole group formed up, it was on.
We had a tight group last night. The group that was staying at the back was fairly small, so everyone who was in the rotation up front was getting plenty of rest between pulls. This always bodes well for a good average pace at the finish – and I didn’t have much time to look at my computer.
The first north leg of the trip is relatively flat with some downhill to help, so it went mercifully fast into the headwind. From the first turn west, the crosswind didn’t hurt too much and from what I saw, there was no need for an echelon (or four). The group stayed together and when we made the turn south, things picked up gradually.
Then we came to the hills. I’ve lost enough weight lately to notice that I’m experiencing less difficulty in getting up the hills with our gang. Last night was the first time in years I can remember enjoying going up – normally it’s one of those things; you have to keep up on the hills to get to the good parts.
I was in the lead pack up the last hill going into the regroup and was ready for the intermediate sprint. Unfortunately I’d picked my place unwisely – or rather, the tandems stayed up front a little longer than anticipated. I became the tip of the spear for the lead-out train. So be it, I thought. I pushed the pace from a decent 27-mph coming down the hill into town, to 31.5. I love a fast lead-out. At the base of the downhill, smoked, I tapped out and went to move to the back. There was a gap, though, so I took a spot in line about four bikes back with maybe a quarter-mile to the City Limits sign. I was just going to sit in and catch my breath, but when the first two went for the sprint, I couldn’t contain myself. I went too, with one other. I think I was fourth in the sprint, but was the lead-out and in the sprint. I was pretty stoked, and when Jonathan rolled by and gave me a verbal pat on the back for the effort… well, it was pretty cool.
We regrouped in town, but when we made the final left to the home stretch, we could see the A Group coming up behind us. Normally we hold them off till we get to the last five-mile straight shot, but the little speech at the beginning put us behind. They caught us at the worst possible time, and with a car passing. They made it around but we were trying to give them enough room to pass whilst still maintaining our pace – it got messy. I was also too far back with too may people to pass to get around and latch on as they went by.
I resigned myself to riding back in with my group. Then Jonathan and Scott went. Then Chuck jumped to bridge the gap (what an effort that must have been!)… The timing was all wrong for me, though.
We came up to the last stop sign and we were only a hundred yards back of the A’s, when they slowed up for the turn. I saw my only chance to get up there and jumped on it. Chuck was just catching on the back and I only had half the distance he did to bridge. Toby went with me and soon enough we were on the back of the A Group. That’s when the hammer went down. There were, I think, counting… six times where I thought I was going to drop. The pace went from 24 to 28-29-mph and with that crosswind, it was a little tricky trying to get a draft and not crash. I found an opportunity to get into the drops and that helped immensely. We stayed above 25-mph for the last five miles and four of the five of us who made the bridge stayed with the lead group all the way in – the last mile we were above 29-mph (46/47 km/h)
I shut Strava down shortly after crossing the line. I showed a 22.5-mph average, while Chuck had a 22.6. Another fastest Tuesday night.
It never gets old.